Epstein: Cubs system lacks 'impact talent'

MESA, Ariz. -- Theo Epstein did not sugar coat it when it came to describing the talent in the Chicago Cubs' minor league system.

“We need more talent; we lack impact talent,” Epstein said. “We have a number of interesting guys, especially at the lower levels, but every organization has a number of interesting guys at the lower level.”

It was obvious that the Cubs were extremely interested in the players from Cuba who were recently available. They missed on outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, who signed with the Oakland Athletics, but landed left-handed pitcher Gerardo Concepcion.

They also are reported to be extremely interested in Cuban outfield prospect Jorge Soler, who has yet to be granted free agency. Some reports have even said the Cubs have already come to contract terms with Soler, but general manager Jed Hoyer sternly denied that.

Looking at what is on hand, outfielder Brett Jackson would fit into that dynamic prospect mold that Epstein talked about, and so would first baseman Anthony Rizzo, whom Epstein and Hoyer acquired from the San Diego Padres this winter.

Although there are arms at Triple-A Iowa with major-league experience such as Randy Wells and Travis Wood, a hard-throwing, late-inning bullpen prospect -- or three -- is on the wish list.

“We need some more impact talent, and we need some guys who have ability and can break through,” Epstein said. “It would be really nice to get a breakthrough player this year and have somebody move from that interesting prospect category to that potentially impact category. So we’ll see. There’s a lot of work to do.”